One of the best pieces of cartooning advice I ever received was simply, "Violate a cliche."
The Next LevelI can't count the number of times I see this cliché used in business circles every day.Whenever I hear it, I think of that line from Inigo Montoya in 'The Princess Bride'; “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”Taking something to the next level is certainly a good intention, but what does it really involve?For a business, it's most likely massive effort, commitment, risk and definitely some pain. It could piss people off, and could potentially be the end of a career as you know it.It's definitely not about making minor tweaks to maintain your position and stay in the same place.I love to see things taken to another level. There should be more of it, and I am truly in awe of those who do what's necessary to do so.If you're genuinely working to take something in your life to another level right now, know that you rock.For those who are just using the words but not really doing the work needed to get there (and I'm talking to myself as much as anyone here), I'll borrow another great movie quote, this time from 'Zombieland'.
There's a reason they call it an "i" phone.
There's something very fishy going on in New Zealand's parliament today ...
TEDx Auckland starts today! That's worth a cartoon.
I decided this week it was about time I got off my butt and made a few life changes, including to what I eat and how active I am. I realised - like Patton Oswalt eloquently says - that "I gotta lose some goddamn weight."
I'm not doing any faddish diets or anything. I'm well aware that these don't work long term. With a bit of guidance, I'm setting out to make some permanent improvements to my food choices and eating habits.
It's been a challenge so far, as the above cartoon attests, but I feels like it's off to a pretty good start. Check in with me in 12 weeks time, however, and we'll see how I'm going.
Change is difficult. But for me it's time to struggle up out of the chair and make one.
It's an election year in Australia, which means the issue of asylum seekers is back front and centre in the rhetoric of the posturing politicians pursuing preferential positioning at the pending polls.
Unlike that tongue-twister, the complex issue of dealing with asylum seekers has been boiled down into one simple statement for those who are vehemently supportive of turning them away that is as dehumanising as it is brief; "Stop the boats."
In spite of - or more likely, because of - the leadership change that has occurred within the Australian Labor Party in the last week, it seems that we're going to hear this phrase and the issue debated even more intensely over the coming months.
Could that statement be any more obnoxious? It conveniently removes the human element from the equation, deliberately sidestepping the fact that there are real people on those boats.
As the election approaches, I'll be listening out for which leaders are keeping that fact in mind. The way we treat the people on those boats will communicate how we believe the whole of humanity should be treated.
Game of Thrones
Yeah, yeah. Game of Thrones is the biggest TV show on the planet right now, but there's a reason for that.
It's definitely the most impressive TV show I've ever seen; from the locations, the sets, and the acting to the complex, grand arcing story that will be watched for years.
Like The Sopranos was 14 years ago (RIP James Gandolfini) there's no doubt that Game of Thrones is going to be seen as a significant milestone on the history of television.
This cartoon is also a small milestone for me. It's the 100th cartoon I've posted on this site since its launch. In the big scheme of things, that's not many, but it's still a milestone worth celebrating.
Here's to the next 100, 1000 and 10,000 cartoons. (And the next 10 seasons of Game of Thrones!)
Had a cool time today hanging out and working at the Biz Dojo in Auckland. A very cool, very friendly bunch of creative business people, sharing an office space, interactions, energy and dreams. In other words, a great crucible for cartoon ideas!
The above cartoon was inspired partly by a recent viewing of Jurassic Park, and partly by chatting with the directors of this company. Two young guys, in the early days of their start-up, with a clear vision for making their own little dent in the universe.
It reminded me of this article, which reflects on the story of Chris Hadfield, the 53 year old Canadian astronaut who became an international celebrity thanks to his tweets and communications from space. His key piece of advice? "Don't let life randomly kick you into the adult you don't want to become."
Biz Dojo felt to me like a room full of people doing just that; that is, taking the reins of their own dreams and creating something new. That feeling - creating something from nothing - is like bringing a T-Rex to life from extinct DNA; it's challenging, thrilling, and just a little bit scary. But if it can be achieved, you have an awesomely cool T-Rex.
To put it simply, there's nothing more awesome to me than human creativity. So get out there and create.
My mum turns 70 today, and this is a little tribute cartoon for her.
As well as being my mum, in her life she's also been a teacher, a counsellor and more recently, an artist developing her talent in mosaic.
It is painstaking work - that I know I would not have the patience for - taking broken pieces of discarded material and making something beautiful out of them.
If anyone knows what it's like to be broken, it's my mum. Several years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had lost several members of her own family to breast cancer over the years, so the pain of what it could mean was very real.
However, after a long period of treatment, she recovered from her own cancer. It's why her turning 70 is an extra special reason for our family to celebrate.
So today, I say thanks Alison for all your encouragement over the years, especially for my cartooning. Your own artistic endeavours in mosaic are an inspiration to me, and reflective of your gifts of patience and caring.
Happy birthday mum!
Hmm. I wonder what this cartoon is about. Any ideas?
Generations gaps. They might not be as wide as you think.
Having lived in both Australia and New Zealand for many years each, it has been interesting to see the growing significance of Anzac Day for people in both countries. It seems to be bordering on religious observance these days.
I must admit I've not participated in an Anzac Day dawn service for a very long time. The times I did it was certainly a moving and powerful experience, but I always came away from them with a sense that the Anzac story legend was not really the exalted legend it was so often portrayed as.
A friend of mine has written about this much more eruditely over on her blog, and I commend her comments to you this Anzac Day, lest we forget what a horrific thing war really is.
Check out the programme for the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival for 2013 here.
Pun Love II
If you've read my blog on puns that I wrote a couple years back, you'll know I'm always on a quest for that Holy Grail of comedy, a truly original joke. The pun above is pretty obvious I thought, so I looked online but couldn't find a cartoon that was exactly the same angle I've gone for here, so maybe this is one step closer.
Anyway, I had so much fun drawing this last night, I just had to post it straight away. Hope you enjoy! I did.
This is a pretty well-worn pun, but I've given it a twist here for the purpose of promoting the next Social Media Club Auckland event. These are excellent events, and not just because there's free beer. Especially well worth getting along to if you are in Auckland and have a professional interest in social media. Register at this link.
Can you spot the difference?
I've read a few snarky comments lately by journalists ragging on less-than-stellar PR consultants. As possibly the only PR consultant-cartoonist in New Zealand (and maybe the world), it's only fair for Jim to pop one back.
Jim isn't a perfect PR consultant by any means (who is?) but he does his best.
To all those awesome journalists out there (you know who you are) my colleagues and I love you dearly and appreciate all you do.
To all the rest, let me ask you this ... How do YOU feel?!
When Death ComesThis is a cartoon I was asked to do for a publication in Australia as a tribute to the recently late poet and friend John Pfitzner.John died in his sleep very suddenly a few weeks ago, and his passing has left all those of us who knew him reeling.I worked with John in my first full-time job in Adelaide at Openbook Publishers, where he was the senior editor. I was very junior at the time, but always found him to be a very warm and friendly person, with a terrific sense of humour.A couple years ago we connected again on Facebook, and it was great to hear his story of becoming a poet and getting published. He talked of his evolving spiritual journey and also said he enjoyed my cartoons very much. That was the last contact we had, although I often heard about his poetic endeavours through relatives back in Australia.Then, a few weeks ago, I got the shocking news. He had been at a Monday night discussion group with friends; talking, laughing and probably reading some of his new poetry. The next morning he didn't wake up. It was just one of those things.Those of us who are still coming to terms with his death can be grateful for the small but significant body of poetic work he left behind, especially for the window it gives into the heart and soul of a truly alive human being.One poem that is especially poignant is the one I paraphrased in the above cartoon. The full text of it is below. It speaks for itself, and gives great comfort to think that while his death was sudden and unexpected, he was totally ready for it.We will miss you John. Thanks for the time we were able to share with you on this earth, and for leaving so many heartfelt words behind to inspire us. Rest in peace.~ ~ ~ ~ ~When death comes1.When death comes,like a tradesman turning up at the door,apologising for not giving advance notice,or perhaps for having kept me waiting,I want to greet him as someone I've got to know over the years,whose sometimes crude methods I haven't always approved of,but whose crucial role in my life I've come to appreciate –without his work over eons,higher life forms couldn't have evolvedand I would never have been born.I don't want to make things hard for him;he'll be flat out, with bigger jobs to attend tothan disposing of me.2.When death comes,like a transcontinental train pulling in to the station –which I'll board without any carry-on luggage –I want to sit with my back to the engine,watching the receding scenery,enjoying the view before the darkness of the tunnel.I don't want to waste timespeculating about possible destinations.3.When death comes,like removalists parking their van in the street,come to take everything away,I want to already have given a fond farewell to a lifetime of acquisitions,happy to entrust them to others,knowing that not all will be loved and kept.I don't want to find, when everything else is gone,that my innermost cupboard is bare,swept clean of the abilityto be astonished, to be moved, to be human.- John PfitznerOctober 2012(An obituary for John by the South Australian Society of Editors can be found here.)
Ex-PopeA cartoon to mark the last day of Pope Benedict XVI's 'reign'. It must suck to be fallible again.Read the story here, and then tell me if you can spot the error in the cartoon.